How to Silence the Classroom Once and For All

While the title of this post was just to get your attention, I do think that failures can occur in trying to spread education to as wide an audience as possible. The Boston Globe posted this article back in March about students being asked to remain quiet while in class so that their class can be recorded for HarvardX, a free education platform. I know the exact details are unknown and somebody very likely overstepped their boundaries. But, I think the idea of silencing anybody is ridiculous and uncalled for. Yes, there is a difference between silencing questions and limiting disruptions. But, asking for students not to engage is going to prevent both.

There is an update provided at the end of the article:

UPDATE 3/12: I heard from Elisa New, who explained that this is an approach she has used in class before- “I have often (though not always) preferred to give my complete lecture and to entertain discussion afterwards,” she wrote- and that the decision to ask students not to ask question during lectures that were being filmed for HarvardX applied to just a “few” lectures and was not a policy in any strict sense.”

If we want to have real student engagement, forcing students to wait until the end of discussion is going to discourage that. I know I often forget questions when listening to research presentations and while I write them down, it is unrealistic to think all people will. I think questions need to be asked in person and when they are first thought up. That way, more time is given to both the instructor and the student to solve the question together. Natural curiosity is key.

Category(s): PFP14S

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